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It’s a high noon first for President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa will today face the first vote of no confidence against him. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa will today face the first vote of no confidence against him. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 3, 2020

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Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa will today face the first vote of no confidence against him.

The motion was brought by the African Transformation Movement (ATM). Sources inside the National Assembly have revealed that Ramaphosa’s backers have been working tirelessly to mobilise for Ramaphosa in the National Assembly.

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ATM has accused the president of failure to respect the Constitution by protecting Minister Pravin Gordhan, refusing to unseal the CR17 documents and working to oust Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane because of her adverse findings against him.

ATM also accused National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise of being loyal to the governing party when she refused their request for a secret ballot.

“The Speaker’s loyalty to her party has prevented her from conceding to the legitimate pleas of the ATM to have voting conducted in a secret ballot,” party spokesperson Sibusiso Mncwabe said.

Mncwabe said they had pointed to Modise conditions for a secret ballot being too many, including instances of “toxified and highly charged environment that the Constitutional Court cited as legitimate for a secret ballot”.

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“All these legitimate examples fell on deaf ears living (sic) the ATM no choice but to seek to protect democracy, the objectives of the Constitution and rules of Parliament by approaching the high court in the Western Cape for relief,’’ he said. In an affidavit, ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula said their application sought to review Modise’s decision.

“I submit that the basis for the decline of the applicant’s request or, put differently, the basis for the Speaker’s decision is both irrational and biased,” Zungula said.

He said the political situation was toxic to such an extent that it would be impossible for the MPs to cast their vote according to their individual consciences but would instead be influenced by the party mandate.

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Zungula also said the vote of no confidence in former president Jacob Zuma in 2017 was done by secret ballot on circumstances which were the same as those at present.

“The same decision by the Speaker in 2017 of holding the vote of no confidence with a secret ballot shall apply even in current circumstances.”

Zungula also said electronic votes did not achieve the objective of a secret ballot.

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“It is in fact an open ballot whereas in a secret ballot the voter’s details remain anonymous,” he said in reference to collating votes of MPs in virtual sitting by a chief whip of their party.

While Mncwabe said their urgent application was to be heard in the Western Cape High Court, this could not be independently verified.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said that the national legislature has not been served with court papers.

This happens as other opposition parties said they would abstain from the debate and vote.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said the motion was destined to fail without the majority support of MPs.

“The DA’s decision to abstain from the vote does not mean that we will not hold the president accountable. By abstaining, we are placing President Ramaphosa on notice, because if he does not implement his economic reform strategy, as promised, we will certainly, in future, reconsider our decision to abstain from such a motion,” Mazzone said.

Freedom Front Plus leader Petrus Groenewald said the aim of ATM to get the ANC’s support was very opportunistic and would not succeed.

“It is nothing else but part of factionalism in the ANC. We will abstain from the motion of no confidence,” Groenewald said.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the Constitutional Court had in 2017 made a seminal ruling that the Speaker has power to decide on whether a vote could be in secret.

Holomisa also said the court had stated that if voting was to expose identities, it would prevent members from voting according to their individual conscience without undue influence.

Congress of the People said as long the opposition parties were not united, they would be wasting their time in bringing motions of no confidence against Ramaphosa.

Meanwhile, Mothapo said the debate on the motion in Ramaphosa would be at 2pm today.

The motion will be debated and voted on in a hybrid sitting of the House through an open ballot, he said.

Political Bureau

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